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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Today’s Reading | Matthew 13:1-9

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” (NRSV)

“Hey there mister, can you tell me what happened to the seeds I’ve sown? Can you give me a reason, sir, as to why they’ve never grown? They’ve just blown around from town to town till they’re back out on these fields, where they fall from my hand back into the dirt of this hard land.”

The Parable of the Sower is so familiar that once someone starts it, we can finish it without thinking. Bruce Springsteen turns this parable around, however, and turns it into a tale of rootlessness—where the seeds become people, dropped into a world that is hard and unwelcoming, people who are looking for a place where they can belong.

“We’ve been blowing around from town to town looking for a place to stand . . .”

And just like that the Parable of the Sower stops being about how we hear God’s word and becomes a question of how we practice what we hear. Look at the news. It is not difficult to see the hardness and hostility in how the sick, the hungry, the elderly, and the immigrant—all those people that God has told us to nurture and care for—are treated in our world. These seeds, it seems like they are blamed for the kind of ground they find. They’re told, “The ground is hard? That’s your problem. There are thorns and weeds? Well, too bad for you.”

Good ground doesn’t happen by accident. The first mechanical invention that put us on the road to civilization was the plow, an instrument for breaking ground. If we want the ground to be fertile and welcoming, we have work to do to make it happen. Break the ground. Tend the soil. Then the seeds have a place to take root and grow.

The parable is not about hearing—everyone hears, but some don’t understand and some lack the commitment to put the Word into practice. It’s about preparing the soil and nurturing the seeds, and the work never stops, because those seeds are blowing around out there every day.

Lord, please remind us that you have not called us to be a hard land but rather to be a fruitful and welcoming place. Help us to remember to tend the land and care for those you have sown among us. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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